Social Media Posts May Sabotage Your Accident or Personal Injury Case

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In this age of social media, when most people have smart phones and accounts on multiple online social platforms, it is common for individuals involved in accidents to post status updates and photographs about what has happened to them. Our accident attorneys understand that it has become second nature for many, especially young people, to share every moment of their day online, without thought of how far their information and photographs may spread. If you are involved in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, or any situation that results in a personal injury, this is a very bad idea; it could cause you to lose compensation you deserve for your injuries, even if someone else was at fault.

You Never Know How Far a Tweet or Status Update Will Spread

Social networks are a powerful method for disseminating information – sometimes when you don’t even realize you are doing it. For example, during the recent Academy Awards ceremony, a “selfie” posted by host Ellen Degeneres – of herself with a number of other attending celebrities – became the most shared photo ever on social media site Twitter. The record breaking “selfie” was re-tweeted so many times that Twitter crashed. See Ellen’s tweet here.

Facebook Post Results in Loss of $80,000 Settlement

While the viral spread of Ellen’s “selfie” did no damage, another post – this time on Facebook – had a much more damaging effect. Patrick Snay, former headmaster of Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, sued his employer for age discrimination, winning an $80,000 settlement. This settlement was subject to a confidentiality clause. Following the decision, Snay breached confidentiality by telling his daughter about the award, and she then posted a status on Facebook, saying, “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” When lawyers for Gulliver Prep proved in court that current and former Gulliver students had viewed that damning status update, Snay lost the entire $80,000 settlement amount.
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Car Accidents: Understanding Florida’s Permanent Injury Threshold

When a person is injured in an auto accident, the attorney they hire can help them recover damages to cover medical bills and lost wages. In more severe cases, the victim may be able to receive damages for pain and suffering. Because this requires proving a permanent injury, many attorneys in Florida often refer to this statute as creating a permanency threshold.

There are several Florida laws that govern car accident cases and bars a plaintiff from receiving damages for pain and suffering. One Florida law, section 627.737 Florida Statutes, states that a plaintiff cannot receive damages for pain and suffering unless they can prove one of the following:

(a) Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
(b) Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
(c) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
(d) Death.

How Past Medical History May Affect Your Case

In Duclos v. Richardson, 113 So. 3d 1001 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013), plaintiff Jeanette Richardson sustained neck injuries due to an automobile accident. Ms. Richardson sued Duclos, the defendant, because he was at fault.

Ms. Richardson provided medical testimony from three doctors whom deemed her neck injury as a permanent one. The defendant then provided medical testimony from an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Thron, who testified that Ms. Richardson suffered from arthritis in her neck and that the automobile accident did not cause permanent injury to her neck. Dr. Thron based his testimony on prior medical records belonging to Ms. Richardson.
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Uninsured Motorist / Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Florida

Insuring Your Vehicle

When you buy a car and insure it, an agent from any given Florida insurance company will mandatorily offer what is called Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (“UM”) coverage. You, as the insurance seeker, may opt to choose this type of coverage or you may waive it by signing what is called a UM waiver. The purpose of this material is to inform you about the importance of UM coverage, specifically in the state of Florida.

Florida Is a No-Fault State

Florida is a no-fault state with regard to automobile accidents. This means that when an at-fault driver has produced injuries to an innocent party, that at-fault driver need not pay for the medical expenses that will be incurred by the innocent party.

There is however an exception to this no-fault policy. Automobile accidents can result in serious injuries. When severe injuries are obtained, such as a permanent injury, you may need more medical coverage than what your insurance provides. In a situation of severity, and if your policy has already covered all that it can, you may seek the at-fault party’s insurance for help. The problem with reaching out for benefits via the at-fault party’s insurance policy are that said at-fault party might not have any benefits available at all (an uninsured motorist), or the benefits available via his insurance might not be sufficient (an underinsured motorist).

UM Coverage May Protect You from Uninsured and/or Underinsured Motorists

In essence, UM coverage is for self-protection and you should take it into consideration when seeking automobile insurance in Florida. Many people who waive this type of coverage do so because their monthly premiums would be lower without it. Although paying the least amount monthly for your premiums is ideal, it is also very important to imagine the worse case scenario. It is absolutely better to be safe than sorry.


If you encounter yourself in a situation wherein you are rear-ended and sustain severe injuries, it is best to have this UM coverage as opposed to not having it. Your insurance company will take care of some of your medical expenses but what happens when your benefits have exhausted? The next step would be to seek benefits from the at-fault driver’s policy. However, what if this person’s policy has nothing available for you? Having opted for UM coverage when you were seeking for automobile insurance will save you from not having supplemental benefits via the uninsured driver.
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Changes to the Personal Injury Protection Laws in Florida

The new laws in Florida that cover personal injury protection benefits have been made much more stringent to what they were previously. In general, the time that a person has to make a claim under an auto insurance policy has been cut down significantly, as well as additional steps being added to the process of receiving payments for medical bills.

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Beginning in January of 2013, the changes that the Florida’s legislature created took effect making victims of auto accidents analyze their injuries and property damage in an extremely timely fashion. The policy argument that came from the state was that the new imposed rules would help to prevent fraudulent claims. The unfortunate truth of the situation is that many non-insurance related groups were impacted from these changes, especially those individuals who have been injured in auto accidents.

A major concern of many Floridians is that they will continue to pay the same amount, if not more, in premiums, while possibly receiving less in benefits. It remains the law that all state citizen drivers maintain a minimum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) in PIP coverage, while certain circumstances could leave them being only able to collect twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500.00) in medical benefits.

The reform to the previous PIP laws has created a fourteen (14) day window in which an initial consultation with a physician must be performed in order to qualify for benefits. Previously, there has been no time restriction at all. If your first date of treatment comes after the fourteen day period, nothing will be paid by the insurance company to your provider. Initial treatments must be provided by a hospital or licensed clinic, or by a select group of professionals, including medical doctor, dentist, chiropractor and paramedic.

There are also two benefit thresholds:

1st: To qualify for $10,000, your injuries must be diagnosed as an emergency medical condition.

2nd: For a non-emergency treatment, the maximum benefit is $2,500.00
Additionally, certain therapeutic treatments will no longer be covered under PIP regardless of when the claim is filed with the insurance company. Insurance companies have no duty to inform their policy holders of the changes either. Though the new PIP laws require that insurance companies lower their policy holders’ premiums by the year 2014, there is nothing preventing them from fighting this and possibly not having to follow through with it. The requirement itself forces the insurance companies to lower rates by at least 25%, but policies held by Floridians only have approximately 20% of their bills attributed to PIP coverage. This fact alone demonstrates that insured drivers in Florida will not likely even feel a decrease in their policy.
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How Insurance Companies Place a Value on a Personal Injury Claim

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To determine what a personal injury claim is worth, there are two things you must always keep in mind. First, the value of the case is only worth what the insurance company is willing to settle for. Second, the case value is only different from what the insurance company sees it as if and when it is placed in front of a jury, and placing your case in front of a jury has potential for various outcomes. These factors make it sometimes difficult to determine what your case’s value is because they may be very different from what your expectations are. Ultimately, and case by case, the totality of the circumstances that are present in the claim is what will help to determine your specific case’s value. To better understand the insurance companies and how they conclude their opinions on your claim, a breakdown of the process is provided below.

What Insurance Companies Pay Out

In order to assess your personal injury claim, you must initially be aware of the different ways that you may deserve compensation. When a person or business is found liable for another person’s injuries and that person or business is insured, their insurance company will pay the inured person’s:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Property Damage
  • Lost Wages from Work
  • Lost Educational Experiences
  • Permanent Disability
  • Damages for Emotional and Mental Distress

Formulas Used By Insurance Companies on Assessing Damages

There are certain damages in personal injury claim that can easily be calculated. The money that it costs for medical treatment, wage losses and other figures that are relatively easy to ascertain are generally not a part of any confusion. The complex issues that sometimes create problems when attempting to increase the dollar amount in a person’s case is determining the value of pain and suffering, opportunities lost, and missed experiences. It is at this point that an insurance adjuster’s formula comes into play.

At the point that a claim reaches negotiations, the total amount of medical costs related to a personal injury claim are calculated by the adjuster for the insurance company. The medical costs involved, or ‘specials’ as referred to by adjusters, is what is used to gauge the injury as a whole. Pain and suffering, and other nonmonetary losses referred to as ‘general damages’, are figured out by analyzing the injury itself. Depending on the severity of the injury, an adjuster with multiply the amount of special damages, anywhere from one (1) to (5) percent, and as high as ten (10) percent in some extreme injury cases. Any lost income as a result of the injury is then added on to the total amount. Keeping this general formula in mind, it must be emphasized that everything is on a case by case basis, and nothing is set in stone. This is also just a starting point where adjusters generally begin negotiations to settle personal injury claims.
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